The Story of Environmentalist Wangari Maathai
The Story of ... series takes the narrative text from each author's well-regarded picture book on the biographee, incorporates facts previously appended, and inserts five multi-page presentations on related topics, effectively refashioning the original biographies for an older audience. These sections offer well-organized information as well as insights into the social and political challenges faced by the person profiled. Added topics discussed in Civil War Hero Robert Smalls (based on Halfmann's Seven Miles to Freedom, 2008) include slavery, ships in the 1800s, and causes of the Civil War. Forest ecosystems, how to plant a tree, and the changing role of women in Kenya are among the new sections in Environmentalist Wangari Maathai (based on Johnson's Seeds of Change, 2010). Olympic Diver Sammy Lee (based on Yoo's Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds, 2005) includes additional sections on Korean immigration to the U.S., Asians in California, and Olympic diving. Appearing throughout the books, the black-and-white illustrations reproduce certain images from the picture books and add well-chosen visuals such as period photos, drawings, prints, and/or maps. While the original picture books were intended for older primary-grade and younger middle-grade students, the new, smaller books are better designed to attract and inform middle-grade readers. These well-crafted, insightful biographies provide a useful historical context for each person's story.